Category Archives: Nature

Sights and smells of the great outdoors.

CMMC June Color – Yellow

“Oh! Hello!” The goldfinch at my home office window was a surprise five years ago. This picture of Iowa’s State Bird was taken through the windowpane glass.

Compared to the goldfinch, the yellow perch on the birdfeeder looks almost orange! It tended to attract house finches.

April visits to Reimann Botanical Gardens yielded more than a few photos of yellow daffodils and yellow tulips. Other yellow flowers were in bloom in early June.

My Aunt Clara has addressed the challenge of growing flowers in the Arizona desert by decorating her fence with a variety of “sunflowers” – found round objects painted yellow.

Posted in response to Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge June Color – Yellow. Click here to see Cee’s pictures and to find links for other responses to this challenge. It’s likely to make you smile.

CMMC June Close-Up or Macro Photograph

One of my early thoughts for Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge June Close-Up or Macro photo challenge was a picture I took of the bark on a palm tree. But it wasn’t as interesting as I remembered. So I set out this morning to photograph the bark on trees along my usual walking path. (No palm trees here in central Iowa!)

Leaves growing directly from the trunks of trees caught my attention on the way home.

The spider on the underside of the leaf in the next photo was serendipitous. (Don’t worry, Cee, it’s the only one with a bug in this week’s collection.)

Finally, one set of leaves in the sunlight shown from two different angles.

CMMC – May Alphabet – Letter “G” in the Word

Saguaro Cactus. Desert Arroyo Park, Mesa, Arizona. May 15, 2021.

“Words with the Letter G” is the theme for Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge May Alphabet. My photos this week were taken on a recent trip to Arizona to see family. So grateful to be fully vaccinated!

Golden Barrel Cactus. Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona. May 16, 2021.

My sister-in-law and I spent a marvelous morning at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. We couldn’t talk anyone else into going with us!

Bougainvillea. Gila Bend, Arizona. May 18, 2021.

My aunt uses collected glass bottles to create “flowers” and “gardens” in her yard. These pictures of green glass fit Cee’s challenge well.

My last tourist type stop was Painted Rock Petroglyph Site near Gila Bend, Arizona.

Couldn’t resist one final photo: grandmother (right), daughter (left), and granddaughter (center).

Three Generations. Gila Bend, Arizona. May 19, 2021

CMMC – May Color – Purple: Flowers

Lenten Rose. Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University. April 3, 2021.
Hyacinth. Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University. April 3, 2021.
Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University. April 18, 2021.
Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University. April 18, 2021.
Johnny Jump Ups. Dilworth’s Yard, Billings, Montana. May 11, 2021.

Posted in response to Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge – May Color Purple.

CMMC: April Color – Light Green or Neon Green

Figuring out what was light green or neon green was the hardest part for the April color week of Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge! Here’s what I finally chose.

Green Apples from Jack’s Tree. Central Iowa. October 2, 2017.
Frog. August 28, 2014.
New Evergreen Needles. Ankeny, Iowa. May 20, 2020.
Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University Campus, Ames, Iowa. April 13, 2021.
Panoramic Awareness Pavilion Panels (Sculpture by artist Olafur Eliasson). Pappajohn Sculpture Park, Des Moines, Iowa. January 8, 2021.

CMMC: April Close-Up or Macro

As I looked at photos I took at Reiman Gardens last Saturday (April 3, 2021), I found three of the same tree that I think work for the April’s Close-Up or Macro Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge.

The shapes and patterns of both the flower buds and the unopened leaves are interesting.

But it was probably the color of the leaves that first caught my eye.

Because I knew I’d never remember it is a Wayfaring Tree Viburnum, I snapped a picture of the identification tag!

Challenges: Bright Square and Flower of the Day

Becky over at The Life of B is challenging us to a post a bright square photo every day in April. The only hard and fast rule is that it must be square. Since I decided to join the fun with a photo of a flower, I’m including it in Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge as well.

Bluebells and Shadows on White Stone, Reiman Gardens, Ames, Iowa, April 3, 2021.

Reiman Gardens: “Mirror, Mirror on the Phal”

Last Friday – the day before the first day of spring – was windy but warmish. With hopes of buds on trees and new plants poking out of the ground, I grabbed my camera and headed to Reiman Gardens on the campus of Iowa State University. The discovery of the day was a special exhibit in the Hughes Conservatory: “Mirror, Mirror on the Phal.”

“Phalaenopsis orchids are like faces: if divided from top to bottom, one side reflects the other. Such symmetry occurs throughout nature. Just look around – mammals, insects, and many leaves exhibit this quality. Where can you spot symmetry?”

Reiman Gardens Website, https://www.reimangardens.com/exhibition/2021-patterns-unfolding/, 3/23/21.

“Of course, another place to see a reflection is in a mirror. The Evil Queen in Snow White made famous the phrase, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” We think nature presents us with the greatest beauty, whether symmetrical or not. We see it reflected in the drama of a sunset, the simplicity of a Phalaenopsis, and even within ourselves.  At the start of 2021, we invite you to reflect and seek all the beauty you can find. Even just by looking in a mirror.”

Reiman Gardens Website, https://www.reimangardens.com/exhibition/2021-patterns-unfolding/, 3/23/21

The reflections in the hexagonal mirrors were so much fun! I’m planning to go back some afternoon – rather than the morning – just to take pictures when the sun is coming from a different direction.

They have set it up for one-way traffic through the Conservatory and masks are required. But it’s not a large place, so I was thrilled when I was the only one in there. The last photo is looking back through the exit doors.

Hoping you’ll take a few minutes to reflect on all the beauty you see – especially when looking in the mirror!

CMMC – February Pick a Topic

Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge the third Wednesday of February is to use her picture to pick a topic (or two or more!) for your pictures. Click here to see her picture; it shows yard/gardening tools as well as a portable outhouse on a trailer with trees in the background.

Abandoned Outhouse. Neumann Ranch Dump, Montana. August 2008.

In my search for a picture (just one!) with a garden tool, I discovered photos of an old outhouse that had been hauled to the ranch dump. Tipped on its side, it’s definitely no longer in use!

Besides just general messing around with a camera in hand that day, Dad intended to dig a few potatoes. So here’s a picture of a shovel in use.

Digging Potatoes. Garden at Neuman Ranch, Montana. August 2008.

Same ranch, same characters, same intent and maybe the same shovel four years later. This time with trees in the background.

Dad Digging Taters. Garden at Neuman Ranch, Montana. August 2012.

Switching things up, I remembered an outdoor cleanup day at a church that might show some tools. To my delight, I found a photo that shows a bit of fun while getting the work done with a rake.

Caleen with Rake. Muscatine, Iowa. November 2012.

Finally, for a little winter work, here’s a broom and a snow shovel being put to good use.

John and Don Clearing the Deck. Muscatine, Iowa. December 2007.

CMMC: February Color – Blue Green

Blue Flower, Morton Arboretum, Illinois. June 2013.

Blue-Green was the February color for Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge. I gathered the pictures and had them uploaded to share on a blogpost, but did not get around to finishing it. (Sigh.) Though more than a week behind, here it is.

Blue Hydrangea, Missouri Botanical Garden. June 2012.
Remembering Baptism, St. John UCC, Melbourne, Iowa. January 2019.
Panoramic Awareness Pavilion by artist Olafur Eliasson, Pappajohn Sculpture Park, Des Moines, Iowa. January 2021.
National Balloon Classic, Indianola, Iowa. August 2013.